Argentina beats Sweden 3-2 in friendly

Argentina beat Sweden 3-2 in a friendly Wednesday despite Lionel

Messi being held scoreless, as first-half goals from Gonzalo

Higuain and Sergio Aguero helped decide the game early.

Messi’s team controlled both halves with a superior passing game

and should have won with a wider margin, but Rasmus Elm’s free-kick

goal in injury time polished the score for the Swedes.

”I think we moved the ball very well,” Argentina coach

Alejandro Sabello said. ”We had some problems with the aerial

game, as they had some tall people.”

Argentina took an early lead through an own goal when Higuain’s

shot deflected off Sweden defender Mikael Lustig.

Jonas Olsson equalized for the hosts with a powerful header on

Kim Kallstrom’s corner kick. But Argentina replied immediately as

Angel Di Maria slipped a deft pass to Aguero, who easily beat

Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson.

Higuain made it 3-1 in the 23rd minute, picking up the rebound

when Isaksson couldn’t hold Messi’s shot.

Messi nearly scored with an elegant lob in the second half, but

Isaksson cleared the ball with a bicycle kick over the goal


Argentina dominated possession and looked comfortable even as

Zlatan Ibrahimovic tried to rally the Swedes before the break.

The Sweden captain came off at halftime after creating a few

half-chances but no shot on goal.

Sweden coach Erik Hamren said his team lost the ball too easily

at times, but admitted that Argentina was stronger.

”They have a skilled team with a lot of skilled players,”

Hamren said. ”You can park the bus in front of your own goal and

hope for counterattacks. We chose to play our own game.”

Messi had a close encounter with a supporter toward the end of

the game when a fan dressed in a Barcelona shirt ran onto the pitch

and hugged the four-time world player of the year, kissing him on

the forehead. The fan was quickly escorted away by security and

Messi wiped his face with his shirt before continuing the game.